Purple Push: GJ Rockies begin hunt for playoffs
Odgen is the only club in the South Division of the Pioneer League that can breathe easy.
The Raptors are in the playoffs. The other three teams are still very much in the running, including the Grand Junction Rockies, who are one game out of first place in the second half.
To say the GJ Rockies’ front office has caught playoff fever is, well, let’s just say the folks at 1315 North Ave., are in full hype mode.
Monday, the club started a “Purple Push” campaign for the final home stand of the first Rookie season in Grand Junction, which begins Saturday and runs through Sept. 6.
You’ll likely start seeing “Purple Push” signs in store windows, and the club is urging fans to come to the games in full purple attire.
The Colorado Rockies’ Rookie affiliate has made the playoffs exactly once, in 2001, when the Casper Ghosts weren’t even the Ghosts — they were the Casper Rockies.
“This opportunity doesn’t come around every year,” said Tim Ray, the club’s general manager.
Whether it’s the move from Casper, Wyo., to Grand Junction, the influx of young talent from this year’s draft, Suplizio Field, or the western Colorado water, the Rockies (36-29) are seven games over .500.
Last year? The Ghosts won 27 games and drew 47,982 fans, an average of 1,297 per game.
This summer, the Rockies have a chance to draw 100,000 to Suplizio. With six games remaining, the home attendance is 83,736, according to the Pioneer League website, an average of 2,617 for 32 games.
To reach six figures, the club will need to draw a little more than 2,700 per game.
“That would signify to me that this is where professional baseball belongs,” Ray said. “It would show the Pioneer League that the right steps were made in bringing professional baseball here.”
With the city of Grand Junction rescheduling the July 4 fireworks show for Sept. 2, after the Rockies’ game, now a 6:05 p.m. start, they should get a jump-start to that goal. Michael Ruvolo, the assistant general manager, said 3,000 tickets have been sold for Sunday’s game, including season tickets.
The way Minor League Baseball sets up its playoffs is a little unique, so here’s a quick lesson:
The season is split into two halves, with the first-half champion in each division playing the second-half champion in a best-of-three series. The division champs then play a best-of-three series for the Pioneer League title.
Here’s where it gets a little confusing:
If the first-half champion (Ogden in the South, Great Falls in the North) wins the second-half title, the team in the division with the next-best overall record gets the second playoff berth.
What that means is if the Rockies don’t win the second half, they’ll be Ogden’s biggest fans as long as they can stay ahead of the Orem Owlz. Entering Monday, they had a three-game lead on Orem in the overall standings.
Games at Orem on Thursday and Friday could make or break one team’s season, but the playoff spot could come down to the final game of the season, Sept. 6, when Ogden is at Grand Junction and Orem is at Idaho Falls.
The playoffs begin Sept. 7 at the second-half winner, then go to the first-half winner for Games 2 and 3, if necessary.
If the Rockies make the playoffs, Game 1 will be at 1 p.m. on Sept. 7, a Friday, to accommodate the high school football game between Rocky Mountain and Grand Junction that night.
“We want people to come out and support that first playoff game in our city,” Ray said. “We’re urging all employers to allow their employees to take in the playoff game. It’s going to be a great atmosphere.”
Ray said the city of Grand Junction declared Sept. 7 “Grand Junction Rockies Day,” playoffs or not.
If you’re a season-ticket holder, if you renew for 2013 by Sept. 5, you’ll receive free tickets for any home playoff games this season.
“It’s been a great first year,” Ray said. “We have three All-Stars, the player of the year (David Dahl), and in my opinion, Tony Diaz should have been manager of the year.
“To have an opportunity to play a playoff game right here at Suplizio is huge. It just doesn’t happen every year.”